Grazing dry standing crops
Grazing standing dry crops is an effective way of providing good quality feed to sheep (especially weaners). These crops provide an easy to eat food source in a clean grazing environment with few grass seeds.
These crops can be:
- oats (dwarf preferably) — safe and cheap to grow and feed (fail safe)
- peas — excellent for fattening sheep but not so good for growing
- lupins — good feed but be aware of lupinosis
- mixtures of the above can be good but are more complex to grow.
Standing oats are the most reliable and possibly the cheapest crop to use. For each tonne in the paddock you should be able to graze at least 10 lambs for the whole of the summer — that is from just before all the crop is ripe (the best time to introduce sheep) until the break of the season. Dwarf oats tend to keep much of the grain in the head and provide a perfect feed for the weaners. If summer rain causes germination, the green pick will only last a short time. After that they might be thin but will tend not to die. Peas can be added for better feed value but they tend to fail every second year because of frost, pea weevil, native budworms or black stem rot.
- Dwarf oats have more palatable straw and do not ‘spook’ the sheep as much — they can see around and use the whole paddock.
- With a tall crop, make roads through to water etc (this can be done by dragging a log).
- A low cost crop can be a bit ‘dirty’ especially if the paddock is going back to pasture.
- A forage crop can be used to undersow pastures.
- There appears to be no strong evidence for saving some of the paddock until later. That is there is no evidence of better liveweights at the end of summer.
(source: Sheep – the simple guide)